Weed Smokers' Lungs (and Constant Coughs)
Are you familiar with bronchitis? A little too familiar? If you're a chronic weed smoker, your lungs are probably slowly filling up with tar and you're probably developing a cough... if not, great! You're one step ahead of us. Let's learn how lungs are affected by smoking weed!
This is where we get back to reality. We all know how beneficial bud can be. We know it can help shrink tumors, we know it can help cancer patients retain nutrients. We know it can unlock a "third eye," so to speak. Weed can, absolutely, be a wonderful thing. CBD oil can help epilepsy sufferers. Cannabis can help patients with dementia and Alzheimer's. Cannabis can help physical wounds heal faster, as well as it helps to protect our brains from negative things and thoughts.
I, in no way, doubt the medicinal miracles marijuana influences every day. BUT, I do have a lot of information to share with you about how marijuana can harm us as well. I have a few other posts on this blog, but we're going to figure out exactly what weed does to our lungs on this post.
Smoking Weed is Common... and Cough-Inducing
Specifically in places weed isn't legal, smoking weed is the most common, and easiest, method for most. Even in places, like Colorado, where it is legal, smoking takes precedence over many other forms of cannabis consumption. There are safer alternatives for real, medical issues, such as using topicals and tinctures. Edibles are also popular, but ingesting marijuana in any of these forms can be dangerous. Why? Because so many people like to test their limits. They may have been advised by their friends (or doctor) to only eat half of the pot brownie, but ate one and a half instead. At first, they might think it's delicious and they'll be fine. Depending on the potency, though, they may spiral into a sense of delirium and even suffer from a panic attack. THC levels are much higher now than they used to be many moons ago. We, as humans, underestimate the power of things we've grown accustomed to using.
When you smoke, how do you smoke weed? Do you use a vaporizer? A steamroller? A bong? Do you roll a blunt or a joint? Do you pack a bowl? Vaporizers are little less harmful to our lungs... but they don't save you from the strong grip of bronchitis all the time.
Anytime you're sparking up, you're starting a fire. You're lighting your pretty green leaves (buds, whatever) on fire. You're, then, expected to inhale the smoke produced from that fire. Upon exhalation is when you're likely to start feeling all tingly and stuff. Sure, part of it is from the high. Part of it is also you cutting off some of the pure oxygen rushing to your brain and lungs. You replace that pure air with smoke.
We all know it's dangerous to breathe in bonfire or house fire smoke, right? The smoke contains toxins, that's why. Smoke, of any sort, does. The combustion causes a chemical reaction. You know what is commonly found among these toxins in smoke? Carcinogens. Those ugly little things we all try to run far, far away from. We're breathing them in when we smoke bowls. Scary, huh?
Sure, in a way, we smoke marijuana kind of like we smoke cigarettes... except, most of us want to quickly exhale cigarette smoke. Many ganja-loving folks believe holding in their hits gets them higher. This is not scientifically proven. I can't stress this to you enough. Though it may make you feel awesome, or a teensy bit higher, you're only damaging your lungs and cutting your brain off from much-needed oxygen.
What damage are you doing, in specific, when you hold in your hit of weed? You're adding to the collection of tar within your lungs. While it may be unlikely to get anyone in the same room with you high from secondhand smoke, you can harm them. There's not quite as much evidence on this, yet, but for the sake of our children... consider what we just learned. Toxins and carcinogens are floating all in that marijuana smoke. Do you want to expose your innocent child to those toxins? I didn't think so. Don't blow your beloved pets and children shotguns, no matter how tempting it may be. The amount of tar and toxins left in your lungs from marijuana-smoke exposure is a little greater than that of cigarettes, after heavy use.
They're defenseless and deserve a say in what their bodies (lungs and heart, in specific) are exposed to!
How Smoking Cannabis Can Cause a Constant, Chronic Cough
Enough with the blind accusations! If that's what you're screaming at me, bear with me just a bit longer.
The reason smoking weed is particularly harmful to our airways is pretty simple... the smoke damages our large airways' cell-lining. The protective, moisture-retaining barrier in our airways known as the respiratory epithelium. Overexposure to smoke dries it out and thusly damages it. Without this protection, we're much more likely to experience inflammation in our airways. After the inflammation begins, our immune systems weaken. Upon this weakening, our lungs are more susceptible to chronic coughs and bronchitis! Do you have any idea how hot the flame from your lighter can get? That heat is transferred to the plant you're lighting on fire, which is then transferred as (hot) smoke to your vulnerable airways. Ouch. Water pipes play it a little safer for you, creating a cool, liquid barrier between the flame, hot smoke, and your lungs. While this is safer than direct flame inhalation, it isn't completely safe.
You may think you've got it figured out, sir dabs-a-lot. Are you hitting dabs with ice in your piece? You need to, for more lung protection.
We can blame bad weed for many of the irritants we inhale with weed, too. People sometimes get a little too excited and don't clean up their harvests properly. That means, if you're smoking the hillbilly mountain man's marijuana, you could also be smoking fertilizer and pesticides. Yuck.
It isn't proven that we can't change this damage, yet. It's much harder, if not impossible, to completely "fix" your lungs after damaging them with cigarette smoke constantly. Cigarette tar is a bit more stubborn and isn't as likely to loosen up as tar from marijuana smoke is. As with many cannabis-related illnesses or injuries, cessation usually improves conditions.
Speaking of weakened immune systems... you really don't want to be an everyday weed-smoker if you're dealing with HIV. AIDs symptoms don't progress easily with marijuana use, but HIV sufferers' immune systems will be even weaker. This can make the HIV move progressively or just make the victim more susceptible to new illness or disease. Either way, your precious health can be preserved a little longer if you don't smoke weed every day with such an illness.
Aspergillus is another thing to look out for, especially with a weakened immune system. Wondering what the heck it is? It's a mold found on marijuana, occasionally. If you're healthy, you shouldn't have a lot to worry about. When you smoke it, your lungs are exposed to that fungus, though. Examine your weed thoroughly if you refuse to set it down!
Not noticing any of these symptoms, except maybe a little inflammation... and a little trouble exhaling? Your lungs are affected, too. Not as life-threatening, but still annoying, not being able to take as deep of breaths as you'd like, exhaling them properly.
If you absolutely love joints, research healthy papers you could use. Most of the standard ones, available at most convenience stores, have achieved a brilliant white with chemical aid. Smoking bleach doesn't entice you, does it? A lot of those trusty, white, doobies contain bleach.
Smoking Weed Everyday Doesn't Always Save You from Cancer
Don't believe me? There's a ton of (recent) data on this! We actually have to beware of lung cancer if we smoke every day. Sounds a little weird, doesn't it? I did mention that cannabis can be good for cancer... and it can. Smoking weed just isn't really the way to cure it, no matter how tempting it seems. You may've previously thought cigarette and cigar smokers were the only ones at risk for the deadly disease... but nope. Science has now proven otherwise. We're still a lot less likely to develop lung cancer than our other smoking friends, but the risk is definitely there. THC may be one of the only reasons we can be thankful more of us don't suffer from lung cancer if we smoke weed.
Can I Do Anything to Help My Lungs Now?
Of course! You've gotten this far. You've educated yourself on the subject at hand. You've learned safer ways of smoking (such as vaporizing) and also how you can enjoy the benefits of bud without lighting up. Now, let's figure out what we can do if we're giving our lungs a break.
- Breathe deeply. This can also help you fall asleep faster. If you train yourself to take long, deep breaths, you can help clear out some tar as well as train your body to slow down internally. The long, deep breath technique helps me wake up and settle down to sleep super easily! More oxygen flows through our bodies, lungs, and brains the deeper we breathe! Avoid shallow breathing if you really want to clear your lungs out.
- Exercise. This doesn't have to be extremely difficult, or anything. You could take a 20-minute stroll around your yard. Don't have a yard? Walk at a brisk pace while you're grocery shopping. The faster you move, the better. If you've ever exerted yourself, you've probably experienced the lung-wheeze. If you can exert your lungs to a level near that, great! Once you've given your lungs a little workout, work them out some more by practicing your breathing techniques.
- Straighten your posture. I'm not trying to sound like your mom, but your lungs are affected by gravity when you're sitting down. Pull your shoulders back and sit with pride. This gives your lungs plenty of room to breathe exactly like they need to.
- Enjoy an herbal tea (or vapor-friendly herbs). There are a few herbs proven to help cleanse our lungs from toxins and buildup. Among these are celery, eucalyptus, ginger, orange, oregano, peppercorn, and peppermint.
Last, but certainly, not the least important, take a break from weed. A month or more would be great. I say this amount of time because your lungs, as well as your blood stream, can bounce back from the effects of weed. If you can lay off the weed for about a month, you'd be able to see if any of your other health issues were caused by excessive marijuana-use, too! You'd kill 2 (or more) birds with one stone! Good luck, and wishes for good health!